Teach Their Children Well

In 1937, the Italian dicatotor Benito Mussolini embarked upon a colonizing war that spread over North and East Africa. Italian forces reconquered Libya and Eritrea and occupied Somalia, subjecting the local populations to massacres and other atrocities. Neutralizing the indigenous people was the job of the army. But since Mussolini claimed to be a liberator of Islam, this image had to be impressed on his own countrymen too. Back home, youngsters in state schools were brainwashed into believing their own superiority, a lesson that was reinforced through a bombardment of imagery. This is an example of one of the many quarderni (typical school assignment booklets) touting the notion of Rome as the cradle of civilization, teaching the occupied Africans the “joys” of being under its domination.

 

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